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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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on innocent people, namely on the children of large families among the poor, who, as we have seen, are already deprived.
Material incentives for fertility control. Some economists have calculated that nations with a surplus of unskilled labor will save a substantial sum for each birth prevented. From these calculations have sprung a number of plans to share this savings with couples who refrain from bearing additional children. In other words, some kind of payment in money, goods, services, or deferred income would be given to couples in which the wife does not become pregnant.
Under one plan, a married woman under 40 with at least one child would be paid 25^ a month for the first 4 months she is enrolled in the plan, 50^ a month for the second 4 months, with payments rising to $10 per year as long as she remains nonpregnant and under 40. Women enrolled in the plan would not only get quarterly payments but also be provided with comprehensive medical services. Under another plan, developed at Ghandigram in India, rewards for nonpregnancy would take the form of community improvements rather than payments to individuals. Under still another plan, couples with, say, three children or fewer at the end of their childbearing period would be entitled to an old-age pension. A fourth plan would provide an educational bond for parents with fewer than a designated number of children.
So far, none of these schemes has been tried even on a pilot basis. Officials of a number of governments have expressed interest in such experiments; others regard them as seriously questionable on ethical grounds. Plans proposed so far seem expensive and difficult to administer; and, until a number of large-scale pilot projects have been attempted to determine their feasibility and acceptability, whether they will induce a significant change in behavior cannot be determined.
The ethical implication of any proposal must also be carefully considered from the point of view of human dignity and distributive justice. Pensions in their old age to parents who have had less than a certain number of children would appear to create little injustice and in the long run might be more than justified by the benefits for all individuals in the society.
Involuntary fertility control. Various schemes for involuntary fertility control have been suggested, including "putting something in the water" that would lower the average fertility of the population, compulsory sterilization of parents after they have acquired more than three or four living children, or compulsory sterilization for all people, which would be reversible only by obtaining a license from the government to have a child. Aside from their political inviability or technical impossibility at the present time, these proposals represent gross violations of individual freedom and would appear to be justifiable on the grounds of distributive justice only after all other methods of limiting population growth have failed.